Today’s feast reminds us of the power of the Rosary and the value of prayer. It was established by St. Pius V on the anniversary of the naval victory won by the Christian fleet at Lepanto. Mary’s intercession was invoked through the praying of the Rosary by the faithful. The victory was attributed to her aide. The Rosary is a meditation on the life of Mary and a penetration into the mysteries of Christ. When we pray the Rosary we are following Mary’s example and are associating ourselves closely with the mysteries of salvation: the incarnation, passion and resurrection of Christ, the Son of God. To say the Rosary well requires recollection. Saying the prayers well and meditating on the events from the Gospels will nourish our interior life. The Rosary said well becomes for us a quarter of an hour’s meditation.
Most retreats take place at centers set up specifically for this purpose. They are usually set in some quiet setting with natural surroundings away from any major activity of the general population. The facilities usually have comfortable private rooms and someone to cook all the meals. Most retreat centers have a chapel and conference rooms. Retreats are scheduled on certain dates and around a certain theme.
Distance, dates, times, costs and the particular theme of a retreat may make it impossible to get away and partake of a much need break and time to rest. Below are some suggestions and ideas for planning your own private retreat. They are only suggestions and, hopefully, a springboard to encourage and inspire a planned time to come away to rest for a while.
First, keep in mind the purpose of a retreat. This is to be a time away from the ordinary activities that fill our days to pray and commune with God. It will be your hope to come away from your retreat renewed, purified, converted and to give yourself an opportunity for some spiritual growth. Remember to maintain silence as much as possible during your retreat. This will include no television, radio, Internet and talking on the phone. You want to spend your time talking and listening to God.
Then begin to plan your private retreat.
Keep things simple.
Pick your dates and place. Find dates that will work for you and your family. Remember this is to be time for you to be alone and in solitude and silence. The place you choose can be a hotel, vacation spot or even your own home. The length of your retreat can be a day, a weekend or a week.
Plan meals that will be are already prepared or just need to be reheated or that would be very simple to prepare. Include some healthy snacks and drinks.
Choose a theme or select some part of scripture you would like to meditate and reflect on or a spiritual book to use during your retreat. Another idea would be to select an audio or video of a good spiritual speaker to use as your “conferences” throughout the time of your retreat.
Here are some suggestions for “conferences”:
Universal Call to Contemplative Prayer
by Fr. Thomas Dubay, S. M. CD retreat talks
I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux
by Jean C. J. d’Elbee
Listen to the Silence: A Retreat with Pere Jacques
by Francis J. Murphy
Here are some suggestions for spiritual reading:
Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary of Magdalen, OCD
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
Heaven in Faith by Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity
One of the Epistles from the New Testament
Spend time in prayer and meditation. Pray the rosary, pray for your family, friends and needs of the world. If possible pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament at a nearby church or chapel.
Get outdoors, if possible, for a quiet walk and fresh air in some natural surroundings and enjoy God’s creation.
Take a nap. Remember this is a time to rest and renew.
Keep a journal of any thoughts or insights you may have during your retreat.
Get to Mass and confession during the time of your retreat.
Be sure to thank God for this time and for any blessings you may have received.
“The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. (Mk 6:30-31)
After his Baptism in the Jordan and before he began his public ministry, Jesus went out in the desert to spend time in solitude praying and fasting. In imitation of Jesus, we can spend some time on retreat which will benefit our own personal ministry among our family, friends and coworkers.
What is a retreat?
A retreat is a period of time spent in solitude away from the ordinary activities that fill our days. It is a period of time away from the usual surroundings and duties to a place of solitude in order to spend time in meditation, self-examination and prayer.
Many times a retreat is designed around a particular theme from scripture or some spiritual writing that is suited to the needs of the individuals involved. There are many different kinds of retreats; some are preached, others are directed or private. In a preached retreat the leader preaches through conferences scheduled throughout the time of the retreat, will lead prayers and be available for one-on-one counseling. A directed retreat consists of meeting with a spiritual director who will suggest scripture passages to the retreatant to pray and reflect upon. A private retreat is made without the aide of a leader or spiritual director. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are well known and are used to come to the realization of and surrender to God’s plan of salvation through a time of prayer and discernment usually thirty days in length.
Most retreats maintain a certain degree of silence with time for relaxation, healthy eating and some exercise. The emphasis however is always on prayer. The time spent on retreat allows one the opportunity to reflect on and examine their spiritual life. Time spent on retreat can become a time of recommitment, purification, conversion, and growth.